“If you want to see heaven on Earth, come to Dubrovnik.” – George Bernard.
Despite never having seen Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik has been on my must-see travel list for quite some time. So, after an all day excursion to Montenegro, Leah and I awoke excited to explore Dubrovnik proper.
Before traveling, I like to read my favorite travel blogs and scrounge for tips for various destinations. I stumbled upon Adventurous Kate’s Dubrovnik Survival Guide post and at first, chuckled to myself, only to realize later how right she was.
Basically, Dubrovnik’s inner-city walled population is about 1,000 people; it also has a circumference of 1.2 miles– aka it’s small AF. According to Daily Star, as many as 10,000 tourists visit the Old City per day in the summer, and a large chunk of those tourists include cruise ship day-trippers. (Now, there are rumors that the mayor of Dubrovnik wants to enforce a 6K tourist cap per day within the walls).
Long story short, Dubrovnik gets insanely crowded, and Kate’s best recommendation, even in April, was that it is best to avoid the inner walls from between 8 am-4 pm. Leah and I both love traveling and wanted desperately to explore, but neither of us can handle large crowds anymore. So, after emerging from our hostel, we immediately bee-lined it for the outskirts; this quickly became a common theme. During my time in Dubrovnik, my mornings and afternoons were mostly filled with activities, and evenings inside the walls.
Unfortunately, Dubrovnik is super expensive; there are no free walking tours, as most of them are Game of Thrones based. So unless you are willing to part with the cash, it is best to explore on your own.
On our only day together in Dubrovnik, Leah and I decided to ride the cable car to the top of the mountain, to soak up the incredible views and enjoy the sunshine. We took some photos and plopped down an a restaurant overlooking the Old City. Together we split a bottle of red Croatian wine and took in the gorgeous views. Afterwards, we chose to hike back down towards the city (both to save money and time).
It took us about an hour to walk down the mountain, but that may have been because we were tipsy and because we often stopped to take photos (see above). We then managed to have a late lunch at the raved-about local restaurant, Lady Pi-Pi. Our dishes consisted of a variety of Croatian specialties; we were also sat right on the patio. It is small and intimate place, but they do not take reservations– we were very lucky to have been served!
About halfway down the mountain in Dubrovnik
Leah actually left Dubrovnik that evening and went back to France; I had a few extra days on my own. Fun fact- I don’t actually enjoy solo travel as much as I used to. I actually become quite reserved in hostels when surrounded by strangers and have started to feel a bit too old (which is probably true). I spent most of my solo nights in Dubrovnik correcting mid-terms, nursing glasses of wine and indulging in books (which was fine by me!)
One day, I spent a few hours exploring the town after 7 pm; there were much fewer people and still plenty of sunlight!
On my second solo day in Dubrovnik, I went kayaking. This was my favorite activity in Croatia. I love getting sporty and doing adventurous-y things, so this was a great way for me to socialize and also get out and active, as well as explore Dubrovnik. Because it was April, the company also kindly provided us with wetsuits– a true luxury. I shared a kayak with a girl called Sarah from my hostel; we followed our guide around the nearby island of Lokum to a nearby hidden cave a few kilometers from the coast. It was absolutely breathtaking to see the walls from a different angle. We got to have a picnic on the cave; I also did some snorkeling, swimming, and attempted cliff jumping!
I loved this day kayaking in Dubrovnik
Our rest stop for a few hours
The city walls from the water.
The funniest memory of that day was Sarah and I, absolutely freezing, running through the streets of the Old City after kayaking, barefoot, wearing almost nothing apart from our bathing suits and towels, back to our accommodation, where we both proceeded to jump in the hot showers.
After warming up and rinsing ourselves of saltwater, Sarah and I devoured a large pizza each; we bid each other Adieu, and then I made my way to the City Walls.
It is a pretty steep entry price to the Dubrovnik city walls, but I admit the views were spectacular. It took me about an hour to go the entire circumference. Afterwards, I went to a famous cliffside bar to enjoy the sunset and sip on a glass of rosé.
My last final day in Dubrovnik, I decided to explore some of the surrounding Elaphiti Islands: Lopud, Šipan, and Koločep. I booked a tour through my hostel, and spent the day being chauffeured around by boat whilst sipping copious amounts of wine and making small talk with three siblings from Manchester. All in their twenties, the three of them mostly kept to themselves on the islands, so I did a lot of solo exploring. Unfortunately, these islands were not quite up and running during shoulder season. Most things were closed and not really ready for tourists. I made the most of the sunny weather and spent time reading and sunbathing with a beverage or cold treat in hand.
Overall, Dubrovnik exceeded all expectations. Next time, I’d like to come back in the peak of the summer to once again experience the Adriatic Sea in all its glory.